INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Turkey: Establishment Seethes While Ak Government Maintains Measured Stance On Iraq Incident

Published: Tue 8 Jul 2003 03:03 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 004278
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/08/2013
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: ESTABLISHMENT SEETHES WHILE AK GOVERNMENT MAINTAINS MEASURED STANCE ON IRAQ INCIDENT
REF: A. ANKARA 4240
B. ANKARA 4193
C. ANKARA 4242
D. ANKARA 618
E. ANKARA 2122
F. ANKARA 2521
G. ANKARA 1350
H. ANKARA 4252
(U) Classified by DCM Robert S. Deutsch. Reason:1.5(b)(d)
1. (C) Summary: Turkish press July 8 highlights the divide
between the AK Government and military/Establishment over the
recent arrest and release of Turkish troops by U.S. forces in
Iraq. While AK insists on a measured response, the
military's political/press allies continue a confrontational
public line with the USG and accuse AK of being submissive
("teslimiyetci," a strong insult). End summary.
--------------------------------------------- ---
TGS "Reproaches," AK Stakes Out Low-Key Approach
--------------------------------------------- ---
2. (U) TGS Chief General Ozkok's statements to the press
during his July 7 meeting with the Ambassador dominated the
front pages of most dailies. The mainstream mass daily
"Sabah" highlighted "the Commander's Reproach" -- Ozkok's
criticism that the U.S. action has prompted "the most serious
crisis of confidence with the U.S. military" in the past 50
plus years. Centrist-intellectual "Radikal" warned "this
affair isn't over," asserting that if Turkey does not receive
an "apology" from the U.S., "the TGS and the MFA (read: the
diplomatic/bureaucratic corps) believe a visit by FonMin Gul
to Washington would be meaningless." "Radikal" further
implies that the TGS will consider "additional measures" if
the crisis deepens, including the closure of Turkish airspace
to U.S. overflights; the expulsion of U.S. military attaches;
the public announcement of U.S. contacts with the PKK; and
unspecified sanctions against the KDP and PUK.
3. (U) Meanwhile, the AK Government's statements to the press
continue to be decidedly more measured. F.M. Gul told
reporters that he viewed the incident as an "isolated event"
carried out at the initiative of "local" U.S. forces. Gul
said both sides are making efforts to prevent damage to
bilateral relations. Following a meeting of the Council of
Ministers, Justice Minister/Government Spokesman Cicek
criticized the political/Turkish State opposition for its
"emotional" response, saying that the Government's
responsibility is to work for a "realistic, responsible
result." Cicek added that there had been no U.S. request for
Turkish forces to leave Iraq, and asserted that the reason
for Turkey's military presence there "has still not been
eliminated."
4. (C) Ali Bayramoglu, columnist in the Islam-oriented "Yeni
Safak" that is closely tied to Erdogan, asserted July 8 that
the crisis may well adversely affect the "process of
civilianization" underway in Turkey. In parallel, July 7 and
8 national security analyst Faruk Demir and AK deputy party
chairman for foreign affairs Disli affirmed to us separately
that the Turkish military is using the incident more for the
domestic purpose of striking at AK. Disli appealed for U.S.
"moral support" for a government which, in the interests of
maintaining the "essential strategic partnership" with the
U.S., has exposed itself to heavy pressure from the
Establishment, including charges that it is conceding
(teslimiyetci) Turkish State interests and honor.
-------------------------------------------
More Claims of U.S. Contacts With PKK/KADEK
-------------------------------------------
5. (U) Mainstream "Milliyet" asserted on its front page that
U.S. officials have met three times in recent weeks with
representatives of PKK/KADEK. "Milliyet" also states that a
report on the contacts was presented and confirmed during the
end-of-June meeting of Turkey's powerful National Security
Council (NSC). The paper further asserts that the USG has
been using the PKK/KADEK as a source of intelligence on Iran,
and plans to use the PKK/KADEK as part of an effort to change
the Iranian regime. Columnist Can Dundar, who has repeatedly
been a conduit for anti-American stories (ref C), charged
that instead of a strategic ally, the U.S. is quickly
becoming the "Number One Threat" to Turkey.
-----------------------------------------
"Inhumane" Treatment Alleged by Detainees
-----------------------------------------
6. (C) Television and print media continue to give prominent
coverage to interviews with the released detainees, many of
whom claimed mistreatment or even torture at the hands of
U.S. soldiers. The detainees claimed that they were treated
"just like al-Qaida members," and described being handcuffed
and hooded, deprived of water, and beaten. Papers also
reported that U.S. forces seized large amounts of documents
and equipment during the raid, much of which has not been
returned. Influential "Hurriyet" columnist Sedat Ergin, who
is very close to the military, strongly criticized the
treatment of Turkish detainees and urged F.M. Gul to cancel
his planned trip to the United States.
--------------------------------------------- --
CHP: "Its Our Back Yard -- What Do You Expect?"
--------------------------------------------- --
7. (C) Former Istanbul mayor/current M.P. Nurettin Sozen from
CHP, the Establishmentarian party that leads the
parliamentary opposition to P.M./AK leader Erdogan, offered
to us privately that the Turkish military's recent activities
reflect the policies it has pursued over the past decade in
Iraq. Sozen asserted that, indeed, Turkish military
activities in Iraq have nothing to do with USG efforts to
administer the country, and everything to do with "protecting
Turkish national interests." He acknowledged that the
military may well have been up to "something" nefarious in N.
Iraq, but asserted that the U.S. should have handled the
affair "differently." Rather than bursting in on Turkish
forces in a high-profile raid -- besmirching their "national
honor" and generating front-page furor -- Sozen suggested
that the USG would have been better served to discuss its
concerns in diplomatic channels.
--------------------------------------------- ---------
Parliament Speaker Urges Calm, "Common Sense" Approach
--------------------------------------------- ---------
8. (C) Ambassador Pearson paid a July 7 farewell call on
Bulent Arinc, Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly
and an AK leader who was a key opponent of the Government's
failed March 1 resolution that would have authorized U.S.
troop deployments through Turkey. Informing Arinc that the
USG and GOT are establishing a joint committee to investigate
the events, Ambassador also stated that the USG has good
reason to be concerned about the activities of the
apprehended Turkish soldiers. Arinc thanked the Ambassador,
observing that the importance of getting a clear picture and
explanation of what happened before the Turkish people;
otherwise, the "anti-Americanists" in the press and elsewhere
would continue to try to foment a crisis. Arinc noted that
the opposition parties are attacking the AK Government for
failing to take a hard-line stance. He asserted that even
stronger, and more serious, opposition to the AK Government's
approach is emanating from "certain circles" -- meaning the
Turkish military -- which he charged are motivated by an
effort to see AK worn out and brought down.
9. (U) In a statement to the press afterwards, Arinc observed
that the investigation should identify whoever was
responsible for whatever happened in Iraq. He emphasized
that the incident should not be "exploited" for political
gain; nor, he admonished, should anyone "create the
expectation" that the U.S. and Turkey "should become enemies;
common sense should prevail."
PEARSON
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